In January of 2017, I decided to take a leap of creative faith. The idea of starting a blog had been following me around for about six months, though I had seriously been avoiding it. For one, I didn’t really understand the point of blogs. Second, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would read what I had to say. Third, a few parenting/lifestyle/mom blogs and their ‘expert point-of-views’ had left a bad taste in my mouth. But like I said, it was persistent in its pursuit of me. All the while this was happening, I was struggling to find a sense of community and direction as an aspiring picture book author. So, I agreed to consider the blog. I realized that the blog itself might just be the answer to what I was searching for. My one major roadblock? I didn’t have a name for it. The short version of this long story is that I stewed over possible names for weeks, without any obvious frontrunner. Until one night in early January 2017, in a moment of sheer shower brilliance, I claimed Magnolias & Manuscripts as my very own. It was perfect, it scratched my alliteration itch, incorporated the obvious writing reference and the icing on the cake was the nod to my southern heritage. The more I worked through it in my brain, however, I knew there was a deeper connection to magnolias that had nothing to do with the state flower of Louisiana or flipping houses. (I’ve never seen the show.)
I also know myself and knew that I needed to set a few ground rules before I started. For one, it’s not in my nature to draw attention to myself; I am a very introverted extrovert. I knew from the beginning that I wasn’t going to blog to generate a following, but to make connections. I wasn’t going to offer an expert point of view, but rather it would be told from the viewpoint of an amateur, aspiring author, with little formal training but a whole lot of tenacity. And finally, I committed myself to six months of weekly posts. As my first post formulated in my brain and then on paper, I received a wonderful confirmation that this was the right move and it came by way of my precious little Australian Magnolia tree.
My parents are avid and excellent gardeners. Ask anyone, their yard is a beautiful display of seasonal foliage that always seems to bloom at just the right times, in all the right colors. It really is a masterpiece. My take on flower beds is decidedly simpler. I need evergreens, annuals and sun-loving plants that don’t require any attention whatsoever. I don’t have much of an opinion on flowers. I don’t know what most of their names are, anyway, and I rarely remember that they are living things in need of some ‘tlc’ (tender, loving care). There was an obvious empty space in the front corner, though, too close to the house for a shade tree and too big for a shrub. I wanted an ornamental tree that would flower but was as low maintenance as the rest. Finally, after years (literally) of talking about it, my husband went to a nursery and came home with a baby Australian Magnolia.
This plucky little tree is just what the doctor ordered for my south Louisiana flower beds. For the second year in a row, this tree bloomed earlier than any other magnolia I could find and it did so enthusiastically. It suffered bouts of disease and drought and somehow pulled through. As an aspiring writer, I hope I have many of those same characteristics. I hope that I can maintain an eager, determined, and vibrant disposition in this field I call my own. I hope that I continue to find a way to bloom, whenever the time is right for me, surrounded by others who are working just as hard as I am.
By all accounts, this past year and my blogging experiment has been a smashing success. I have 83 followers! (WHAT! I’m speechless!) I’ve blogged often. I’ve branched out. I’ve made connections and I’ve put down roots. I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring! Without a doubt, I’m going to continue Paper People, my interview series (second week of the month), and Be My Guest, my newly released guest-blog series (last week of the month.) I’m also going to hone the focus of my other posts in on my current genre, picture books. I hope to have fewer ramblings and musings and more posts with purpose. But then again, look at today, I’m not sure if that’s even my style.
Today marks the ceremonious start to my second year as a blogger! Thanks for joining me here, this week and every week. Since everything has a way of coming full circle, let me close the loop for you. We planted our Magnolia tree right around the time that I wrote my first manuscript. It bloomed for the first time right as I was working on my first blog post. It wasn’t always pretty, much like many of my drafts. And the tree now? It’s a little taller, a little fuller and still my favorite. You could call it a coincidence if you want, but I don’t believe in such things. We are traveling similar paths, this tree and I, and I’m so grateful to have company.
Thanks for reading, come back anytime!